The four squads headed out their separate ways, putting a great deal of distance between one another. The third squad’s route took them through a dense bog covered in mist. Ever since they were out of earshot of the other squads, Hiika had been talking non-stop about herself.

“ … ___________________________ …” as Hiika prattled on Mikasi just nodded his head and agreed with her every now and then and Kurai continued to look straight while ignoring the senseless noise coming from in front of her. “______________________________ ____________,” Hiika said venomously as she turned her head back slightly to see how Kurai would react. Mikasi whispered discreetly to Kurai, “Remember, encouraging diplomacy is a part of this mission too so don’t react harshly.” She didn’t respond but simply increased her pace to catch up with Hiika. “___________________________________________________,” said Kurai as she passed a humiliated Hiika. Her humiliation though quickly gave way to furry that she was about to release on Kurai when Mikasi set his hand on her shoulder with a calm smile, “I apologize for her rude behaviour, you see she’s a member of the Kido Corps and for most of the time its members are secluded from the rest of the Seireitai and thus develop poor social skills so please don’t take too much offence.” Hiika calmed down and in an attempt to save face replied, “Well, I guess I can expect too much from an ignorant, ill-mannered Shinigami.” Unbeknownst to the two, while Hiika said this, Kurai smirked to herself in self-satisfaction.

Else where, squad one was traveling quietly though an open plain running along the edge of a forest.

Mizuki asked, “Captain, I was thinking, Noire Terre is a place where all the souls of sinners are sent, and I’m certain that there have been MANY sinners though out human history and yet this place seems so … bare.” “Well,” began Hamako, “the way souls enter Noire Terre isn’t as simple as it is entering the Soul Society. We can enter freely because we are shinigami and any being with a high enough reitsu can do so, but those with lower levels are forcefully put through a sealing process. Their souls are placed in special gigais called Cadavres. All Cadavres look alike and don’t have a gender but more importantly, these gigais drains the soul of any reitsu it may have and seals it away permanently within the body creating a Malâme.” Mizuki’s yes widened, “but wait, sealing reitsu within a gigai … that sounds like the gigai that Urahara created to seal the hōgyoku in?” “Exactly. Urahara based his design of that gigai on the Cadavres except the original seals the reitsu away almost instantaneously,” Hamako responded. “And you said that low level souls are sealed as Malame but what about Kakutasu, he’s not a shinigami so what’s happened to him?” questioned Mizuki. She paused, “He very well may have been turned into a Malame already. On the other why would someone go to all the trouble to kidnap him just to effectively kill him. He’s influential to the Seireitei but his death wouldn’t cause any irreparable damage. This whole thing is a is very peculiar situation.” Mizuki continued to look perplexed, “Well I understand about the souls here but that still doesn’t explain why we haven’t encountered anybody yet?” Hamako became very solemn, “You’re right it doesn’t …”

As the group marched onward, from above in the shadow of the trees a peering gaze looked down on them, waiting …

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